The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A BIT IRISH (by Medbh Gillard)

"What are you looking at, pervert?"

Friday, July 11, 2008

the connoisseur

Summer rain on Dublin.
Coffee with the Spanish Onion at the Stephens Green Centre.
During a tender moment she handed me a package.
"For you," said she.
I ripped it open.
And lo!
It was a painting.
Another painting.
Oh joy of joys.
Interestingly enough this one amounted to quite an artistic achievement. For it was a good deal more awful than the last one she gave me.
It can't have been easy to go so far beyond that original awfulness.
No really, it can't.
A poignant look came into my pale blue eyes.
"Do you like it?" enquired the Onion.
I let my attention rest on the canvas.
The painting featured a snot green background with dollops of slightly lighter green snots scattered all over it.
I mean, who wouldn't like it?
What's not to like?
I prayed to God that my famous rubber featured face would not give its usual transparent verbatim report on my true feelings.
"I love it," I ventured.
Ah bold readers.
Even a rat will fight when its cornered.
But I wasn't out of the woods yet.
The next few moments would be crucial.
If I burst out laughing she'd be liable to kill me.
And she wouldn't leave a handsome corpse.
With some difficulty I resisted the urge to say: "Snots have become something of an artistic motif for you, haven't they?"
Oh Lordy.
Life is too short.
"What do you like about it?" demanded the Onion peering at me keenly.
I gazed at the painting with the air of a great connoisseur.
"I like the play of colour, one shade of green flowing into another shade green, and then both of those flowing into a whole sea of green," I told her.
At my shoulder the ghosts of Johnny Gielgud and Laurence Olivier nodded approvingly.
This was damn fine acting even by their standards.
Juanita peered at me keenly.
"What is your favourite thing about it?" she pressed.
I held up the painting for a better look.
"It has an hypnotic quality when you hold it up to the light," I mused expertly.
My friend let a little cry.
"You're holding it upside down," she exclaimed.
She really did.
I rotated the painting.
"Just trying to get a different angle," I explained smoothly.
After a few more minutes of my most sublime Shakespearian acting, the Spanish Lady ceased her interrogations and headed back to work.
I sat alone in quiet contemplation.
If you had passed through the Stephens Green cafe that day, gentle reader, you might have wondered at the extraordinarily handsome man staring fixedly at the horrendous painting.
You might also have noticed I was smiling.
Already I had a name for this new treasure.
Homage Aux Snots Verts Part Deux.
And I knew where I would hang it.
I would put it in the bad room at the chateau.
The haunted room none of us will sleep in.
Actually we use it as a guest room.
I wondered briefly whether this painting might not succeed, where the exorcists have failed, in driving out the ghosts.
Yes folks, if any of you are thinking of coming to stay with me for an overnight visit, you should know that from this day forth there will be worse things in the west wing of the Chateau de Healy than the elemental forces of evil and the odd phantom ancestor which you would normally meet there.
Let's face it.
Compared to Juanita's paintings, the multifarious legions of hell pale into insignificance.
But you should be alright if you don't look directly at them.
The paintings, I mean.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

And Now This (by Irina Kuksova)

"I don't know what you're so smug about Mugabe, you're paying for the lattes."
I told you they were following us...
Left to right: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, Unidentified Blonde, "President" Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, James Healy, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

what in tarnation's a skanger

A man who masters his own mind is worth ten thousand who take a city.
Well, so I've heard.
Lunch in the Costa cafe with the Mammy.
I was contentedly munching a mushroom ementhal sandwich when, lo, the crowds parted and I espied a pointy nosed harridan of lean and bony mien bearing down on our table.
Forgive the bitterness apparent in my choice of words.
It was some skanger I used to work with at some skanger newspaper seven skangery lifetimes ago.
This former colleague had spotted us in the cafe and was apparently intent on making contact.
Gnurghhh, as Mohandas K Gandhi always used to say whenever skangers from his past life accosted him in public.
I ask you bold readers.
Why on earth do I never run into people from my past life that I actually like?
There must be at least one.
Okay, okay.
Forget I asked.
The pointy nosed skanger drew level with me and greeted me like there could ever possibly be some amity between us.
She was clutching a baby skanger.
I scowled at the table.
But the Mammy.
The Mammy was having none of it.
She was all: "Oh hello Joan. How are you? And is this your little girl? It's lovely to see you again."
Blah, blah, ephin blah.
Presently the pointy nosed skanger wandered off.
I shot the aged parent my most wounded expression.
The Mammy met my gaze levelly.
"What?" sez she innocently.
"Oh vile treacherous snake woman," I burst out with some restraint.
The Mammy shrugged.
"I'm too old to change my ways," she grinned.
I guess, gentle travellers of the internet, that means it's up to me to change mine.
Later this same evening I sat alone in the window seat on the upper floor of the west wing of the Chateau de Healy.
The family was out.
A Summer storm was blowing up across the fields and I watched the drama.
From where I sat I could see the wind sweeping through the trees sending a froth of rain flying from the July foliage.
The casements shook and a low moan filled the empty corridor behind me.
Most eerie.
I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck.
It didn't help that I was sitting near the bad room.
By the way, bold readers, the bad room is a sealed chamber of the family home, where legend has it my Great Great Grand Uncle Throgmorton Healy was walled up alive for having an illicit affair with the maid.
They took a dim view of illicit affairs with maids in those days.
Thankfully times have changed.
Arf arf.
But where were we?
Oh yes.
On lonely nights at the old chateau, it is said you may still hear Uncle Throg moaning fitfully from the bricked up room.
"Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrraaaaah," he moans, "arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaah, aaarrrahhh feckkkkkkkkkk."
I kid you not.
So now I'm sitting here.
The rest of the Healys are out carousing.
I am quite alone.
The rain splashes against the window panes.
I shudder.
I have entered the altered state between fear and inspiration.
The splendour of the storm has engulfed the garden.
Uncle Throg moaning in the bad room.
The wind rifling the trees.
The downpour curtaining over everything.
Dusk becoming dark.
And so I face my demons.
Dammit all.
How can I master my own mind?
What is the key that unlocks the spirit?
Damn, damn, and triple damn.
There must be an answer.
And soft.
Soft as dusk.
Softly the wisdom comes.
All healing begins with acceptance of self.
Sometimes we are too much in love with our own sickness.
There is a choice.
Truly there is a choice.
We can choose to be well.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

heelers theories of mind

1. The mind is never a mistake.
(God made the world, and God didn't make any mistakes.)
2. The mind has a limitless capacity to self heal.
3. No mental state is meant to defeat us. Schizophrenia, depression, derangement, in fact any disruption of the mind, may be confronted, understood, transcended and overcome.
4.The mind has rooms. (I'm likening memories and moods and habituated thought patterns to chambers.)
5. There must be no chamber of the mind that we fear to go into.
6. We do not have to spend all our time in the same chamber.
5. We can redecorate the chamber, open a window, turn on the light, install a new type of light. (By getting a new type of light, I mean looking at old memories in a new way.)
6. We can build new chambers of the mind simply by giving ourselves some new and dramatic and memorable experience. (A helicopter ride. A visit to Rome. Etc etc.)
7. Every journey begins with a single step. Every melody begins with a single note. All healing begins with an appeal to the freedom of the person to choose to be well.
8. Any negative memory or thought pattern may be brought into its true perspective as something that serves you but does not rule you. That is to say, it may be brought under control. Even a most grievous memory is meant to serve not to dominate. It is your memory and you own it. One method for bringing an oppressive element of memory under control is to cultivate in the mind an awareness of present beauty. To place our attention on something glorious that is happening now. To welcome into our spirits sensations of peace, rejoicing, hope and renewal. To make the present more important than the past. To develop habitual thought patterns about the good things. Victoria Falls. The Dawn Chorus. A sunburst of roses. Reading me.
9. We can contextualise old negative oppressive experiences by creating new positive liberating ones.
10. Sometimes we are a little bit in love with our sickness.
11. In sleep the mind experiences itself in search of harmony. Even dreams that seem disruptive may serve the mind in attaining peace. (Of course disruptive dreams may also stem from eating bacon and eggs at bedtime or watching too many films or television programmes containing negative imagery.)
12. Jesus Christ died on Calvary so that all of us might be free. None of us are made for slavery. He conquered death in order to bring an end to all oppressions: mental, spiritual, political, diabolical, whatever. No science of mind has ever bettered Jesus' supremely liberating statement two thousand years ago: "If you make my word your home, you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Monday, July 07, 2008

the wakening silence

a woman sleeping
i watch her face
i've looked in half the world
and have not found such peace
as in it now
faint smile or sorrow
lights upon her lips
from the corner of her brow
a momentary flutter lifts
the wandering shadows
from her wakening eyes
a traveller returns
briefly we recognise
in the silence of our dawn
another silver universe
being born

Sunday, July 06, 2008

the meaning of life

Old men often look back into their youth for that moment when childhood ended.
For some the passing of innocence came in a fight, or with their first job, or after a romance.
In my home town of Kilcullen, the rites of passage from boyhood to manhood normally involved gambling.
None of that ould sex stuff.
(Heelers is speaking for himself. - Ed note.)
Nay, nay and thrice nay.
We lost it at the Galway races.
And by "it" I mean all our money.
And by extension of course, our innocence.
There is nothing like destitution to make a boy into a man.
Destitution, I said.
For these were innocent times.
A dirty weekend where we came from meant Shelbourne Park Greyhound Track in the rain.
Sowing wild oats meant backing long shots in the bookies.
Playing away from home meant, well, playing away from home: soccer, rugby, tennis and the like.
Innocent times, right enough.
I cannot think what then I was, as William Wordsworth always used to say after losing his latest payment for a poem on some mutt at Shelbourne Park.
But I digress.
I wish to evoke for the bittersweet beauty of the end of innocence.
Sometime in the dim and distant dawn of youth, brother Bernard, cousin Vincent and myself, tiring of childhood set out out from Kilcullen for the headier climes of the Galway races.
Like pioneers of old we struck our tents opposite the racetrack.
(Heelers means "pitched our tents." - Ed note.)
Hearts brimming with youthful pride we stood on the edge of the great unknown.
Cometh the hour cometh the men.
We strode purposefully to the racetrack entrance and faced our destiny.
The roars of the crowd beckoned us on towards what we knew would be a week of high adventure.
We lost all our money in the first hour of racing.
Gambled it away on a voodoo wind.
Years later Neil Young wrote a song about us.
"See the Healys and the damage done.
A little part of it in every one.
Gone, gone, the damage done..."
It's very poignant.
Anyhoo.
There we were among the fashionably dressed crowds of Galway, without a penny in our pockets.
Tragedy.
Bitter, bitter woe.
At that moment when our spirits were at their lowest, a certain Peter Nolan wandered past us through the throng.
Here was a face.
If not exactly a friendly face, definitely one we knew from somewhere.
He was a native of our town and we'd attended the same schools.
Like drowning sailors clutching at driftwood, we bombarded him with our story.
Peter Nolan rose to the occasion with all the heroism of a young gambling Saint Francis of Assisi.
Never let it be said he was willing to see compadres from his native place left abandoned and desolate, shipwrecked as it were so far from home.
He gave us £1.
Each.
We weren't long losing that either.
Now came the firstlings of the dawning of wisdom.
Returning to our tent we discovered it tattered and forlorn, barely standing, the interior completely devoid of blankets and possessions, a strong smell of alcohol pervading throughout.
That, bold readers, was the moment of our passage into manhood.
That was when we learned life is not a holiday at the Galway races paid for with our parents money.
Nay, nay and thrice nay.
Now we knew.
Life is a cider party held by street urchins in someone else's tent while the idiots who own the tent are out losing all their money on horses they know nothing about.
Wearily we sought the solace of sleep.
Shivering beneath the rain washed canvas.
Grateful in a way that the thieves had shown mercy and left us the tent.
And do you know what?
We were better men.